The squirrel is deep in reflection today.
You see, we attended a memorial service yesterday for my husband’s cousin. David was only a year older than Dennis. His passing was sudden, unexpected until a month ago when he noticed some leg swelling. And the doctors diagnosed him with an untreatable and aggressive primary liver cancer.
Death has a way of toying with the living. Tossing and tumbling thoughts and emotions and memories.
We lingered at the cemetery in the late afternoon. Spent quiet time at the fresh dirt-covered, flower-sprayed grave and wandered among the other family headstones, and Dennis told me stories again of the people there. We visited his parents’ grave and noted where we will one day rest.
And we lay awake late last night talking.
About David and how he was in our wedding and about his life journey and how he also came back home to live near his widowed father and how we didn’t spend as much time together as we “should” have and how sad we were that we had never attended any of his plays. And how he and Dennis looked so much alike when they were kids that people got confused. And we remembered how he showed up unexpectedly in a really cool car to celebrate Jeremy’s graduation with us. And we talked about how our faith had been challenged because, you see, he left a partner of 36 years and was very gracious and caring and active in his church.
And we recalled how Aunt Betty’s death was a first for Abby (since she was only two when Dennis’ mom died) and how much that affected her when she was in fifth grade.
And we remembered times on Duck Lake. Aunt Betty and Uncle Kenneth owned a house there and eventually another aunt’s little yellow cottage next door. We talked about the fun we had when our family stayed in that cottage for a week and how Abby and I got “lost” on the lake while fishing in the dark and couldn’t make out the right dock. And how we played board games late into the night and laughed until we hurt.
And we remembered the last family reunion at the lake–the 100th one–and how Dennis’ mom wasn’t feeling well but refused to complain and how she rested more than usual in a chair. And how she and I went to the greenhouse to get gift plants, and she pointed out the funeral home that she said would handle her arrangements and how the other one in town would handle her husband’s because they wanted to “spread the business around.” And how we later realized how prophetic that was.
We took two days to drive back to Georgia and had no sooner walked in the door than the phone rang with the news that Mom was in the hospital and we needed to come right back. And she squeezed my hand at bedside, and two days later we sat around a conference table when the doctors discussed her prognosis. And everyone looked to me (as a nurse) and I said yes, remove the ventilator because the nurses had shown me her necrotic abdomen. And they did it so quickly that nobody was with her to say good-bye, and I always wondered had I been more observant and made her go to the doctor if she could have been treated.
And she never completed the grandmother’s memory book for our children.
And then that made me think of Dennis’ dad and how hard his last years were in the nursing home for him and how hard it was on Dennis, and I wondered had I recognized his stroke symptoms sooner if his complications could have been avoided.
And he died without completing his grandfather’s memory book, but Uncle Kenneth (his brother, Dennis’ uncle and funeral home boss, David’s dad) did it in his stead.
And we laughed because his sister who wants to be cremated said you can make diamonds from ashes and that one day we might own a Dianne diamond
And then we talked about our life and how we met and how I didn’t believe he would have given me a second look if Susan hadn’t forced him to (though he disagrees.) And how we will have been married 39 years in December and good memories and rough times and places we’ve lived and how the time seems to have gone by so fast. And how Dennis is now the oldest male King left and how Jeremy (unless he changes his mind about children and has a son) will be the last and how he isn’t really “blood” since we adopted him but how he is as much a King as John who came from New York to establish the farm here in the early 1800s.
And we talked about how brief life is and how important it is to live it well and we talked about caring for each other in the years we have left and what our children will remember about us and about simplifying life and how we need to be sure to make and preserve more memories.
That life births death, and death births life. And change comes and we go on. With gratitude and without regrets.
Death is like that. It stirs memories of life lived and a coming to terms with choices and letting go and an urgency to reevaluate priorities and live well the life that’s left.
And we slept in peace. With this tune, the last song played yesterday, running through our heads.
Linking up today with Duane Scott’s Pleasantly Disturbed Thursday.